Overeating may have other "symbolic" value besides "replacing an emotional emptiness." The "comfort" factor may be primary in many cases, but I can recall a case where eating an abundance of sweets represented a compensation for the bitterness of life that was deeply felt. In another case, a child who was eating massive amounts of food, believed that it would help him grow up faster and catch up in size with his older brother. I would always look for the individual, unique root of an unusual eating habit.
Developing a "concrete sense of self" and an "acceptance of self" is indeed a prerequisite to increasing the feeling of community. In order to achieve this, the push of the inferiority feeling and the pull of the fictional final goal must be progressively diminished. A genuine sense of self is discovered after the artificial role, dictated by the style of life and fictional goal (designed to relieve a dreaded fear of inferiority) is dissolved.
An examination of the stages of Classical Adlerian psychotherapy can clarify the sequence of strategies that lead up to the development of a feeling of community.
|PHASES||STAGE NO.||STAGE||TASKS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED|
|Support||1||Empathy & Relationship||Providing warmth, empathy, and acceptance.
Generating hope, reassurance, and encouragement.
Establishing a cooperative working relationship.
|2||Information||Unstructured gathering of relevant information:
Eliciting details of presenting problem & life tasks.
Exploring early childhood influences and memories.
|Encouragement||3||Clarification||Clarifying vague thinking with Socratic questioning.
Evaluating consequences of ideas and actions.
Correcting mistaken ideas about self and others.
|4||Encouragement||Helping generate alternatives.
Stimulating movement in a new direction, away from life style.
Clarifying new feelings about effort and results.
|Insight||5||Interpretation - Recognition||Interpreting inferiority feelings & goal of superiority.
Identifying what has been avoided.
Integrating birth order, recollections, dreams, & daydreams.
|6||Knowing||Client fully aware of life style without help.
Individual knows and accepts what needs to be changed.
In spite of insight, client may feel emotionally blocked.
|Change||7||Emotional Breakthrough - Missing Experience||When needed, promoting an emotional breakthrough.
Offering corrective or missing developmental experiences.
Creative use of role-playing, guided imagery, and narration.
|8||Doing Differently||Converting insight into new attitude--breaking old patterns.
Fostering experiments, concrete steps based on abstract ideas.
Making the unproductive feel unpleasant.
|9||Reinforcement||Encouraging all new movements toward significant change.
Affirming positive results and feelings.
Evaluating progress and new courage.
|Challenge||10||Social Interest||Using client's better feeling of self to promote more cooperation.
Extending feeling of equality, cooperation and empathy to others.
Giving one's all, 100% in relationships and work--taking risks.
|11||Goal Redirection||Challenging client to let go of self and old fictional goal.
Dissolving the old style of life--finding a new direction.
Opening a new psychological horizon--living by new values.
|12||Support & Launching||Inspiring client to love the struggle and prefer the unfamiliar.
Strengthening the feeling of connectedness & desire to share.
Promoting a path of continual growth for self and others.
|Meta-Therapy||-||Post-Therapeutic Dialogue||A philosophical and/or spiritual discussion of values, the meaning of ones' life, and the committment to a mission.|
Classical Adlerian psychotherapy is characterized by a diplomatic, warm, empathic, and Socratic style of treatment. This climate embodies the qualities of respect and equality necessary for building a trusting, cooperative relationship. A full psychotherapy can be envisioned as a progression though twelve stages, however, these stages should be considered as teaching guidelines and should not be interpreted as a systematic procedure. Psychotherapy is an art that must be practiced creatively. The best therapeutic strategy is frequently a unique invention for the individual client.
For more detailed information about the process of psychotherapy, read Classical Adlerian Theory and Practice at http://www.themall.net/~adler/theoprac.htm .
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